Stories tagged: Dupont

Jim Borel: Engaging Farmers, Women and Youth in Food Security for the Future

In this guest blog post, Jim Borel, Executive Vice President of Dupont is optimistic that the great challenge to feed 9 billion people by 2050 can be met.

On World Food Day this year, we have reason to be hopeful. According to the 2015 Global Food Security Index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by DuPont, food security has improved in almost every region of the world.

Sustained economic expansion in most regions and rapid growth in the developing world have been key drivers of this growth, and government investments in agriculture and infrastructure—begun in the wake of the food price shocks of 2007-08—are paying off. Continue reading

2015 Global Food Security Index Released

During the past year, food security has improved in almost every region of the world, according to the 2015 Global Food Security Index (GFSI), released this week by The Economist Intelligence Unit and Dupont.

Taking into account affordability, availability, and quality across a set of 109 countries, the index measures these drivers of food security across both developing and developed countries.

Among the key findings was the news that two-thirds of countries made progress from a year earlier. Driving the gains were sustained economic expansion in most regions and rapid growth in developing countries (especially in Sub-Saharan Africa—SSA), combined with lower global food prices. Government investments in agriculture and infrastructure—begun in the wake of the food price shocks of 2007-08—have also been crucial to improving food security. Continue reading

What is driving food insecurity in 2012?

Approximately one billion people in the world are hungry. The World Bank estimates that global food price spikes in 2008 pushed 44 million people below the poverty line, most of them in poor countries. It is often argued that we do produce enough food to feed the world. According to FAO statistics, world agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase.  However, due to physical, political and economic barriers, the food we produce does not reach those who need it most.

Last week, a new tool was launched that measures food security levels in 105 different countries. The Global Food Security Index 2012, produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by DuPont, uses 25 unique indicators to measure the risk and factors that drive food security across both developed and developing countries.

The indicators were split into three categories:

  1. Affordability (such as food consumption as a share of household expenditure, proportion of population under the global poverty line, the presence of food safety net programmes and access to financing for farmers).
  2. Availability (such as sufficiency of supply, public expenditure on agricultural research and development, infrastructure and political stability risk).
  3. Food safety and quality (such as diet diversification, national nutrition plan or strategy and micronutrient availability).

The resulting index can be used to analyse food security challenges in several ways. Countries most at risk can be identified by using the ranking function. Data can be filtered by region, to allow comparisons among economically similar countries. Country profiles use a “traffic-light” approach to display findings, showing clearly where countries do well and where they struggle, and suggesting where interventions are most needed.

Some key findings of the report include:

  • Several of the sub-Saharan African countries that finished in the bottom third of the index, including Mozambique, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Niger, will be among the world’s fastest growing economies over the next two years. Although still poor in absolute terms, rising incomes suggest that these countries may be in a position to address food insecurity more forcefully in coming years.
  • Several policy and nutrition related indicators including access to financing for farmers, the presence of food safety net programmes, protein quality and diet diversification, are highly correlated with overall food security. This suggests they would be a good recommendation for governments in countries that scored poorly in the index.
  • The Global Food Security Index (GFSI) shows a very strong (0.93) correlation with the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Index, a measure of the global environment for female economic participation. This implies that the more inclusive a country’s economy is for women, the more likely it is that it will be food secure.

In a recent interview with Farming First, Director of Sustainability at DuPont, Dawn Rittenhouse, explained how she hopes the tool will be used to identify the drivers of food security, so they can be solved. She said:

There were so many factors that actually impact how food secure a country is, so we brought together an expert group (…) to help figure out what are the kind of things that could be measured. Hopefully it will help to drive a better understanding of  the real challenges and what we need to focus on solving, and then allow people to work together to help solve those problems.

A food price adjustment factor will also soon be rolled out, allowing the food security scores to be modified following changes in global food prices.

Download the full report here.

Explore food security initiatives around the world with Farming First’s interactive map here.

Fighting Poor Nutrition with Biofortified Sorghum

Africa continues to slip behind in meeting basic nutritional needs, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for half the deaths of children under the age of five within the developing world. The Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) project is a public-private consortium that seeks to use biotechnology to develop a more nutritious and easily digestible sorghum that contains increased levels of essential nutrients, especially lysine, vitamin A, iron and zinc.

Malnutrition is defined as the insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients. Poor nutrition and calorie deficiencies cause nearly one in three people to die prematurely or have disabilities, according to the World Health Organisation.  Malnutrition constitutes a global ‘silent emergency’, killing millions every year and sapping the long-term economic vitality of nations.

Food fortification is the practice of adding micronutrients to foods to ensure that minimum dietary requirements are met. The use of biotechnological methods involves inserting a gene with codes for the nutrients into the seed.  This seed is then bred with a high yield quality crop, resulting in the production of crops rich in micronutrients. Agricultural biotechnology methods, and in specific genetic modification, represent therefore a very valuable, complementary strategy for the development of more nutritious crops.

The ABS project has the potential to improve the health of 300 million people by increasing sorghum’s nutritional quality. Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop and the main dietary staple for more than 500 million people across the entire developing world. It is the only viable food grain for many of the world’s most food insecure people, and what’s more sorghum is uniquely adapted to Africa’s climate, being both drought resistant and able to withstand periods of water-logging. The potential for sorghum to be the driver of economic development in Africa is enormous.

So far, six successful sets of field trials of nutritionally enhanced sorghum have been conducted in the United States where the sorghum has proven stable and effective over several generations. Greenhouse trials of nutritionally sorghum have been undertaken in South Africa and Kenya. Applications for field trials are in the process of approval in Kenya and Nigeria.

Additionally to the potential health benefits, the ABS project also serves as a model of creative partnerships, bringing together public and private, South / South and North / South organisations. Each partner brings to the table their own particular strengths and helps to create an enabling environment for the use of ABS in Africa, that can be altered and fixed according to the local conditions, cultures and issues encountered in different areas. From Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business that provided the initial technologies for the project, to the national research institutes, technology organisations, policy institutions and universities involved, the project is a successful consortium whose size and diversity mirrors the complexities and extent of the challenges that Africa faces.